Beyond Tolerance: Child Pornography on the Internet

Beyond Tolerance: Child Pornography on the Internet

Beyond Tolerance: Child Pornography on the Internet

Beyond Tolerance: Child Pornography on the Internet


Perhaps nothing evokes more universal disgust as child pornography. The world of its makers and users is so abhorrent that it is rarely discussed much less studied. Child pornographers have taken advantage of this and are successfully using the new electronic media to exchange their wares without detection or significant sanction. What are the implications of this threat for free speech and a free exchange of ideas on the internet? And how can we stop this illegal activity, which is so repugnant that even the most laissez-faire cyberlibertarians want it stamped out, if we know nothing about it?

Philip Jenkins takes a leap onto the lower tiers of electronic media in this first book on the business of child pornography online. He tells the story of how the advent of the internet caused this deviant subculture to become highly organized and go global. We learn how the trade which operates on clandestine websites from Budapest or Singapore to the U. S. is easy to glimpse yet difficult to eradicate. Jenkins details how the most sophisticated transactions are done through a proxy, a "false flag" address, rendering the host computer, and participants, virtually unidentifiable. And these sites exist for only a few minutes or hours allowing on-line child pornographers to stay one step ahead of the law. This is truly a globalized criminal network which knows no names or boundaries, and thus challenges both international and U. S. law.

Beyond Tolerance delves into the myths and realities of child pornography and the complex process to stamp out criminal activity over the web, including the timely debates over trade regulation, users' privacy, and individual rights. This sobering look and a criminal community contains lessons about human behavior and the law that none interested in media and the new technology can afford to ignore.


In fact, extremely few persons actually get arrested and
sent to jail, that is a myth really. There are thousands of
vhs's out there, many from 1999, thousands of people pre
sent at this bbs [bulletin board] and millions of loli-lovers
in various countries, yet you only see a couple of persons
getting arrested, and the media writes about it like they
have been busting Al Capone.

—Godfather Corleone, Maestro board,
January 24, 2000

Over the last decade, politicians have often been agitated by the issue of Internet regulation, and they have usually couched their concerns in terms of protecting children. How can the young be kept clear of the “back alleys of the Internet,” where they might encounter disturbing adult imagery? Might children be lured online by cults or hate groups? On the other side of the debate, opponents of regulation counter that repressing overt sexual or extremist material threatens to damage access to genuinely important information or literary work. Yet throughout these charged discussions runs a consensus that regulation could work in practice; that a law passed against, say, pornography or hate propaganda might actually sweep those materials from the World Wide Web or at least keep people away from them; that, given the chance, censorship might work. But is this idea plausible? That it is not—that regulation can, in fact, achieve remarkably little—may be suggested by the easy availability on the Internet of what is probably the most reprehensible . . .

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